Although cargo velomobiles are often referred to as car replacements, they usually cannot match the urban cruising speed of a car. However, the four-wheeled VM45 velomobile comes very close, with an electric top speed of 45 km/h.
First of all, what is a velomobile? It is usually a recumbent tricycle – or sometimes a quad bike – that is completely covered by an aerodynamic shell. This streamlined body makes the vehicle faster than an upright bike (at least on the flat), and it provides a decent amount of cargo space along with protection from inclement weather.
The VM45 is manufactured by the Czech company Katanga, which makes the popular WAW velomobile and was involved in the development of the four-wheeled Velove Armadillo. It has been under development since January 2021.
The lightweight body is made of a composite material consisting of aramid and carbon fibers in an epoxy matrix. A lockable hatch from the top provides access to the cockpit, while a smaller hatch at the rear provides access to the 350-liter cargo area.
In the VM45, the transmission drive chain includes a 7-speed, automatic shift, 750 watt motor/gearbox that supports speeds up to 45 km/h. There is also a reverse gear.
The velomobile’s electric motor is powered by a 48V/1240Wh lithium-ion battery, which is said to last up to 255 km in eco-assist mode.
Front and rear DNM coil-spring dampers provide 45mm and 60mm of travel, respectively. Stopping power is provided by 90mm Sturmey-Archer drum brakes up front and 160mm disc brakes at the rear, the latter doubling as a parking brake.